Rough Fire Takes Off Sunday; Shrouds Southern Sierra in Smoke

Staff Writer

The Rough Fire near Hume Lake added another 4,048 acres Sunday, Aug. 17, bringing the fire's total acreage to 20,098 acres, forcing the closure of the main highway into Kings Canyon National Park at its junction with Hume Lake, (S. R. 180) and forcing people to evacuate the popular trailhead and visitor center area of Cedar Grove; not because the fire is threatening the facilities, but because the road to them is not safe for public use because it is being heavily used by firefighters.

The road to Hume Lake remains open.

The fire has not crossed the South Fork of the Kings River, however it is approaching the river below Highway 180.

Firefighters on the northern flank of the fire conducted burnout operations to strengthen indirect firelines and will continue burning today. Some of yesterday’s fire growth was due to these operations.

Helicopters will continue to be the primary means of direct fire suppression. The steep, rough terrain limits the safe insertion of firefighters, due to lack of adequate safety zones and escape routes.

Firefighter and public safety is the number one priority. Because of this, fire managers are working to safely contain the fire without exposing firefighters to undue risk.

As a high-pressure ridge sets up over the area, high temperatures and drier air will increase fire activity. Increased smoke will be observed throughout the region. Smoke will be heavy in the morning, and increased southwest winds should clear it by early afternoon.

Visitors may experience smoke impacts in many popular recreational areas including Wishon Reservoir, Hume Lake and Cedar Grove area.

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Strong high pressure over Southern California will bring warmer and drier conditions to the fire along with light winds aloft. Terrain will drive the wind patterns. Inversions will intensify with poor mixing and persistent smoke.